If you’re a C-Level executive and care about your brand, please read on. You probably cares a lot about your revenue, your customer satisfaction, retention and conversion rate. If your business model relies on online advertisement, you watch your click-through, page view, number of visitor and hits. Of course you’re cautious about some of your spending, your infrastructure, service and R&D cost.
Well, from what I’m reading lately, it looks like some of you guys (yes you, the C-Executives !) are over looking the importance of your website stability or responsiveness.
These are some article from the past 2 months related to website crashes and/or slowdown.
Is the world cup killing Twitter? (my own article)
Clegg crowdsourcing site crashes in heavy traffic
ESPN’s Server Crashes Due To NBA Free Agent Frenzy
TravelRepublic blames Fabio Capello and England team for website crash
BBC investigates website slowdown
iPhone 4 Pre-Orders Started Today: Expect Long Lines, Website Crashes
Tax deadline extended after county website crashes
Sites crash under World Cup strain
Fedex Website Crashes Due To iPhone Tracking
France’s official website crashes on Bastille Day launch
Flipboard launches ‘social magazine’ for iPad, struggles with demand
We’re not talking small business here ! ESPN, The BBC, Fedex, the French Government (!). You would think they have enough cash and in-house skills to avoid these type of problems. You’d think they’re used to high volume, understanding the impact of a world cup, the launch of a new iPhone or the importance of a tax day on their volume. Nope. Looks like they need a good reminder.
Reasons for these failures ? They’re always the same: Lack of a proper operational infrastructure and monitoring, badly designed website and application layer, volume expectation are not well understood, lack of fail-over solution, untested new features etc. There are a lot of remedies for these potential problems and guess what? A consistent performance testing strategy is one of them. Something that is not only a process but a mindset. Something which should be completely embedded within the company DNA.
Performance testing is arguably the most important part of the software development life cycle, yet it’s usually the first part to get cut off the tail end of a project or sprint. This is if performance testing is even being done at all. With experience from working with dozens of the biggest names in high traffic online applications, I can tell you that the percentage of companies out there doing performance testing is staggeringly low.
Dan is preaching his own church here of course, but he’s got a point. Performance testing is still seen pretty much a nice to have or something you’d find at the bottom of the budget sheet. It’s an after thought rather than something very much ingrained in the company strategy.CEOs and Product Management only see the functional aspect of what their company offers and still don’t take into account the potential impact of slow performance or instability.
In 2008, the Aberdeen Group released a study: “The Performance of Web Application: Customers are won or lost in one second“. They’ve found that inadequate performance could impact revenue by up to 9%. Take the average revenues of organizations that participated in the study: $1.3 billion. Performance problems could account for an average of $117 million annually !
They highlight the fact that an additional second of waiting on a website significantly impact customer satisfaction and visitor conversions. Page viewsm conversions and customer satisfaction drops 11%, 7% and 16% respectively ! Who is hiding these figures to CEOs? Do they have visibility on this impact so that they can make a difference and start making the right decisions?
The study identify some important steps to be taken by organization to minimize the occurrence of performance problems:
- Develop capabilities for a job-role specific view into application performance.
- Develop capabilities for monitoring and managing the performance of web applications across multiple browsers.
- Develop tools for load testing of web application.
- Deploy capabilities for monitoring geographical performance and distribution of content demands.
- Deploy tools for balancing content demand across devices dynamically.
- Develop capabilities for synthetic monitoring of web application.
- Deploy intelligent agents for adjusting caching decisions with traffic load.
From my perspective, this can only happen if a real performance-focused mindset is pushed from the top of the organization. CEOs, are you really listening?